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Mallory's Story

Mallory's mom, Amanda, shares their family's experience at WakeMed.

On June 25, 2000, our family was at the beach.  Our 6-month-old daughter, Mallory, had been sick with flu-like symptoms for the past 48 hours. After calling the pediatrician on the way home, she directed us to go to WakeMed's brand new pediatric emergency department in Raleigh. Being first-time parents, we had no idea how serious the situation was.

Within five minutes of entering the WakeMed Children's ED, Mallory was seen by a nurse who immediately recognized the severity of her symptoms.   Suddenly, there was a flurry of activity around her as they prepared her for a spinal tap. Mallory's lethargy turned into full-blown, red-faced screaming.  Doctors and nurses worked quickly and furiously.  I didn't know what to do.  Then one nurse leaned over to me, put a hand on my back and said, "Its okay.  You can get in there and comfort her, talk to her, rub her head." So I did.

When it was over, they hooked her up to an IV delivering a powerful antibiotic. The doctor then told us what he suspected - Mallory had bacterial meningitis. Being a journalist who had interviewed more than one parent that had lost a child to meningitis, I knew what this meant.  Suddenly, it felt like the air was being sucked out of the room.  I couldn't breathe.

When Dr. Mark Piehl came in, he got down on his knees and explained in a soft voice what had happened and what the future held.  He told us that there is a short window of time to diagnose and treat meningitis.  After the window passes there is little to no hope for recovery. The quick response of the medical team had literally saved my daughter's life.

We spent a week at WakeMed while Mallory was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.  I slept in the crib for the first few nights until the nurses convinced me to sleep on a cot next to her.  I celebrated my thirty-fourth birthday with Mallory asleep in my arms and toasted my husband with Sprite in a Styrofoam cup as the nurses sang to me.  Family and friends came and went bringing teddy bears, cards and flowers.  The nurses were so kind to her, handling her gingerly, bathing her, asking me if we needed anything. Every day she got a little bit stronger, opened her eyes a little more, and then finally, one day she smiled.  It was time to go home.

Today, Mallory is healthy, exceptionally bright 10-year-old little girl with boundless creativity and energy.  I will never forget what the staff at WakeMed did for her, when they saved her life with their compassionate, professional care.

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